Rocky Narrows
Find Your Place
Rocky Narrows Sherborn, MA
227 acres

About Rocky Narrows

By foot or canoe, enjoy incomparable views of the Charles River at its most serene as it slowly winds between granite walls. Or amble among pine groves and past wetlands along seven miles of trails and footpaths.

What makes Rocky Narrows a special place?
We think it’s the riverside location and great paddling as well as the reservation’s blend of mixed forest and wetlands that make for varied, and memorable, experiences. The reservation – The Trustees’ first – showcases the Charles River at its loveliest: a pastoral stream slowly moving between ancient cliff walls and steeply wooded hillsides.

Paddlers justifiably regard this stretch of the meandering, 80-mile Charles River as just about ideal. Canoeist or kayaker, river veteran or newcomer, you’ll revel in its gentle current and spectacular natural surroundings. A mixed forest of hardwoods and evergreens once again blanket a landscape cleared long ago for farming, and the 50-foot rock walls that form the Narrows themselves date back 650 million years.

For a change of scenery, emerge from your boat at the landing and head out on foot across miles of carriage roads and footpaths through rocky uplands and resurgent forest. A two-mile hike follows the river’s edge south before reaching successive overlooks. Rocky Narrows Overlook takes some effort to reach, but you’ll be rewarded with views of steep, hemlock covered cliffs that form a narrow river passage – the landmark that gives the reservation its name.

Further south along the trail is a granite bluff that bears the name King Philip, the Wampanoag chief who warred against the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. From King Philip’s Overlook (in Sherborn Town Forest), visitors can view the marshes of Medfield and Millis, with Noon Hill on the distant horizon.

If the forests, wetlands, and riverbanks you explore here seem larger than 227 acres, that’s because they are: Rocky Narrows brackets the Sherborn Town Forest on three sides. This successful model of public/private land conservation has resulted in almost 400 suburban acres protected from development.

Trails
7 miles of trails, including those that pass through the adjacent 150-acre Sherborn Town Forest. Moderate hiking, strenuous in places. The property is a link in the Bay Circuit Trail.

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours.

Regulations & Advisories

  • The active railway through the southwest corner of the property prohibits crossing of tracks.

  • Mountain biking is permitted only on designated trails. Trails are closed to mountain biking March 1 to April 30, during muddy season.

  • Water craft may not be launched from the property. Landing only.

Directions

South Main Street (Rt. 27)
Sherborn, MA 01770
Telephone: 508.785.0339
E-mail: charlesrivervalley@ttor.org

Route 27:

Latitude: 42.22586346030
Longitude: -71.35415513400

Forest Street:

Latitude: 42.225863
Longitude: -71.354155

Get directions on Google Maps.

From Points North: I-95/Rt. 128 South to Exit 21A. Follow Rt. 16 East to Rt. 135 West. In Sherborn, turn left onto Rt. 27 South to 2 mi. to entrance on right.

From Points South: I-95/Rt. 128 North to Ext 16B. Follow Rt. 109 West 8 mi. towards Westwood. Turn right onto Rt. 27 North for 3.5 mi. to entrance and parking (strict 6-car limit) on right.

Alternate parking (recommended) on Forest St. off Snow St. at northern edge of property (6 cars). On-street parking is not permitted.

Admission

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours.

Admission
FREE to all

Property History

Within 30 years of the Pilgrim landing at Plymouth, settlers had migrated inland along the Charles River Valley. By the 1650s, settlers were clearing land for farms, and the river played a central role in the growth of the community to be named Sherborn. Indeed, what we know as Rocky Narrows was called the “Gates of the Charles” in the Colonial era. Both the Wampanoag people and Puritan colonists considered the granite-walled river passage strategically important. This was particularly true during King Philip’s War (1675–76), when Native Americans fought back under the Wampanoag leader Metacomet, called “King Philip” by the Puritans. Visit King Philip’s Overlook off the Red Trail for a great river view – and a glimpse into Massachusetts’ early history.

In 1897, renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., acting as acquisition agent for Augustus Hemenway, deeded to The Trustees of Reservations 21 acres on the river known as Rocky Narrows, the “Gates of the Charles.” It became The Trustees’ first reservation.

Property Acquisition History
Original acreage purchased with funds given by Augustus P. Hemenway in 1897. Additional land given by Mr. and Mrs. George Lewis in 1942; Mrs. George Lewis, Sr. and Mrs. Dudley H. Willis in 1987; Mr. and Mrs. George Lewis and Hon. and Mrs. Levin Campbell in 1990; and by George Lewis in 1991. Additional land purchased in 1942 and in 1974 with funds given by Mrs. George B. Conant. Additional land purchased by MLCT in 1994. Additional land purchased in 1994 and 1995

Conservation and Stewardship

Management Planning for Our Properties
 


Since 1891, The Trustees of Reservations have worked to protect special places in Massachusetts and maintain them to the highest standards. To ensure these standards are met, a program of careful planning and sound management is essential. Comprehensive property management plans are created for each reservation and are completely updated approximately every ten years. We often work with volunteers, property users, and members of the community to carry out this planning, which typically involves several steps:
 


  • Describing in detail the site’s natural, scenic, and historical resources; identifying management issues related to the protection of those resources. 

  • Describing how visitors use the property; outlining the opportunities that the property provides for people to become involved in the work of conservation and caring for their community.

  • Developing a detailed list of management recommendations, a work plan, and a description of financial needs for implementing the actions.

  • Developing a prescribed routine management program for the reservation that will guide staff work plans, volunteer involvement, and the allocation of human and financial resources.


View Rocky Narrows management plan.

Maps and Resources

Printed trail maps are distributed free from bulletin boards in parking areas. Please understand that supplies periodically run out. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.



Planning Your Visit

Before You Go
We encourage you to visit as many Trustees properties as you can.

Wherever your travels take you, please observe all posted regulations, follow special instructions from property staff, and keep in mind the Stewardship Code:

  • Protect wildlife and plants.
  • Guard against all risk of fire.
  • Help keep air and water clean.
  • Carry out what you carry in.
  • Use marked footpaths and bridle paths.
  • Leave livestock, crops, and machinery alone.
  • Respect the privacy of neighboring land.
  • Enjoy and share the landscape with others.

Click on links below for further visitor information:

Before Setting Out

Enjoying Trustees Reservations

Safety

About Hunting on Trustees of Reservations Land

Tell Us What You Think

We’d love to hear about your visit! Here are three easy ways to let us know what you think:

  1. Take our visitor survey. If you have a question for us, you can ask us in the survey and we’ll get back to you.

  2. Post a comment about your visit on our Facebook page.

  3. Share your experiences with other visitors on our website. Simply fill out the form below, and we’ll post your comment right here on this page.


Submitted by Nancy on: August 11, 2013
Many numbers missing and not enough red markers made my first hike here a bit difficult to navigate. Would have gotten lost if I hadn't printed up a map from this site. Nice place though. Will return.



Submitted by Anonymous on: July 5, 2012
Great for horse trail riding which we did today (July 5th) and wanted to tell you that one of the wooden bridges was giving a little under my horse who weighs about 875 pounds so you may want to reinforce/replace the boards and check the other footbridges. Thanks



Submitted by Advisor Venturing Crew 420 on: May 31, 2011
A great weekend by Venture Crew 420 as a training activity for Minnesota in July, bugs and all. By using "Leave No Trace" procedures, the site looks pristine in arrival and was left in a similar fashion when we left!



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Announcements & Alerts

Notice: Trails may be especially icy or muddy during the winter to spring transition. Use caution.

Upcoming Things To Do
No events for this reservation at this time.
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